This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jackets extra incentive for runners

Participants appreciate event’s classy apparel


At the least, they’re a conversation-starter. At best, they’re a badge of honor. They’re running-race T-shirts, and most who are doing the 50th Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon this weekend have dresser drawers stuffed full of them.

How does the Pikes Peak race stack up, sartorially speaking, with world-famous marathons like Boston and New York?

Put it this way: Pikes Peak would make Mr. Blackwell proud.

“Some of the Pikes Peak ones they do are just the best,” said John Campbell, 60, of Carbondale, who has run Pikes Peak for 30 years. “I actually wear one in semi-formal situations. My experience is they do a great job in general.”

It’s about to get even better. Because it’s the 50th, for the first time the race will give posh, embroidered fleece jackets (retail value $60). This year’s catch — you have to finish to get one.

For today’s Ascent, a 13.32-mile run up the 14,115-foot peak via Barr Trail, organizers will hand out the jackets at the summit. Finishers of Sunday’s 26.21-mile upand-down race get theirs at the bottom.

That makes the gifts even more prized to those who will suffer to complete the lungsqueezing, calf-trashing, hourslong march to the finish line.

Robyn Goldstein, 45, is a first-time Ascent entrant. She lives in Lake Mary, Fla., where it was 102 degrees this week.

“I don’t care. I’m wearing that to work Monday,” Goldstein said. “Just getting that wonderful jacket, I think it’s awesome.”

Pikes Peak garments get kudos for variety and simplicity. Like the revered Boston Marathon, the nation’s oldest continuously run marathon, Pikes Peak doesn’t clutter the back or front with sponsor names. Instead, sponsors get space on volunteer and support crew shirts.

“One of the major compliments we get is, `Thanks for not making us look like a billboard,’” said Melody Lundin, who teams with Dave Vanderkolk of Tayco Screenprinters to design Pikes Peak shirts or jackets annually.

Lundin, the race’s merchandise director, knows aesthetics. She is a protocol officer for Peterson Air Force Base, planning things such as retirements, promotions and public affairs events at bases nationwide. To research design ideas, which Vanderkolk executes, Lundin consults with her husband, Les; reads running magazines; checks other races; and brainstorms on business trips. She came up with this year’s “Pikes Peak, Rare Air” idea on a plane. Pikes Peak items are popular among runners because the event has not done a traditional cotton shirt since 1995. Entrants have received synthetic shirts that wick away sweat, embroidered microfiber windshirts and mock turtlenecks, all with the recognizable mountain logo.

Not all races are created equal when it comes to shirts. Karen Van Rite, 49, of New Berlin, Wis., remembers a Las Vegas race where the shirt was hideous.

“The logo is orange,” she said. “I don’t know if it has dice on it.”

But she still kept it. Badge of honor? Not quite.

“It’s in the closet,” she said. “I use it for washing the car.”


Copyright 2005, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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